New York Assault Defense Lawyer
Assault involves the intentional or reckless physical injury of another person. The crime of assault ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the actions of the defendant, the seriousness of the resulting injury, and the nature of the victim. At its most serious, a felony assault conviction can land you in prison for up to 25 years. Even a first-time offense for simple assault can lead to jail time without a proper defense. If you have been arrested for assault in Orange County, an assault criminal defense attorney at Dupée & Monroe in Goshen can help you put together your strongest defense to mitigate your charges or have them dropped entirely.
Elements and Degrees of Assault in New York Criminal Law
Assault and related crimes such as menacing, stalking, and reckless endangerment are codified at NY Penal Law Article 120. New York’s assault statutes separate specific forms of assault depending on the means used and the nature of the victim. For example, section 120.03 criminalizes vehicular assault, section 120.06 covers gang assault, and sections 120.08 and 120.09 concern assaults on special victims like police officers and judges.
The base crime, called assault in the third degree or simple assault and codified at NY PL section 120.00, involves intentionally causing physical harm to another person or causing harm through the criminally negligent use of a weapon. Simple assault may be charged if the defendant, for example, slapped someone in the face, punched them, or intentionally pushed them down.
Assault in the second degree, codified at NY PL section 120.05, is more severe and requires that the defendant intentionally caused serious injury, intentionally caused injury by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or assaulted certain special victims such as a police officer, a child, a city worker, or an emergency services official.
Assault in the first degree, codified at NY PL section 120.10, requires that the defendant either used a dangerous weapon while intending to cause serious harm, intended to disfigure or disable another person and so injured them, caused severe damage while in the commission of or flight from a felony, or acted so recklessly as to create a serious risk of death of another person and in doing so caused severe physical harm.
Punishment for Assault
Assault in the third degree is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Assault in the second degree is a Class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison. Assault in the first degree is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Other specific forms of assault, such as aggravated assault on a minor under 11 years old or aggravated assault on a peace officer, carry their own punishments. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand your specific charges after a New York assault arrest.
Defending Against Assault Charges in New York
In order to convict on assault charges, the prosecutor must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. For many assault charges, the defendant’s guilt will turn on whether the prosecutor can prove the defendant’s intention to harm the victim. If the defendant hurt the victim on accident, or intended only minor harm and major harm occurred–e.g., the defendant slaps someone as a joke, which accidentally causes them to trip and crack their skull against the curb–, then the defendant may be found either not guilty or at least guilty of a lesser charge.
A defendant can also claim self-defense. Self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant will admit to physically harming the victim and even doing so intentionally, but will argue that the crime was justified. Use of force is justified if the defendant was attacked or placed in reasonable fear of serious physical harm such that the use of physical force was necessary for protecting themselves. Self-defense works best when the defendant’s use of force is proportional to the threat–e.g., he started punching me, so I hit him back. If someone hits you and you pull out a gun and shoot them, your escalation may negate your claim of self-defense.
Help is Available for Your New York Assault Arrest
The lawyers at Dupée & Monroe have decades of experience helping people like you build the strongest defense possible against assault charges. If you have been arrested for assault or other offenses in Goshen, Orange County or anywhere in the Hudson Valley region, contact Dupée & Monroe, P.C., for immediate assistance from experienced New York criminal defense attorneys.